An original poem (Updated February 26, 2014).
Floetry: The Night the Soldiers Came.
“Men suspected to be members of the Islamic Sect, Boko Haram, today Tuesday Feb 25th launched an attack on students of the Federal Government College Buni-Yadi, Yobe state, Northern Nigeria, killing 59 students (or more)…” Hausa Service BBC reports
A tribute to all the innocent souls around the world, lost in senseless orgies of violence and acts of error. A moment of silence for the men, women and children who died too soon. And a prayer for those who are left behind, but mourn still. A song dedicated to the heart of the world, my Africa, and to my beautiful, bruised and broken homeland, NIGERIA. May the dead find eternal peace and may the living find the hope to rise up into the light and embrace the joy of a brand new day! OZOEMENA: May this horror never happen again, God, may it never repeat itself again!
The night the soldiers came (A song for my Motherland)
The night the soldiers came, in the harmattans of ’68, brandishing machetes, guns and slaughter knives; crude accessories for the task at hand. Grown men leaking in their pants, afraid to stand up and fight, for the birth of a still-born nation, this doomed land of the setting sun!
Women screaming and wailing to a God now unknown. And begging forgiveness for whatever sins beget this horror. Heads and limbs and eyes, severed, chopped and plucked from neighbours and friends and kinsmen. Our sisters already dead from the shock of having babies ripped away from their wombs.
That night the soldiers came, in the harmattan of ’68, asking for the blood of the Biafrans. And we, gangling teens that we were, chose to speak a different tongue, and bowed to an alien God. And so they let us live, but killed the living spirit within.
The night the mob came, in the night of ’98. We heard them at the gate, chanting their songs of revenge and hate. Brandishing machetes, guns and slaughter knifes; crude accessories for the task at hand. Our young men stood tall and proud, draped in the colours of the rising sun. They sang long forgotten melodies, accompanied by the voices of their ancestors: “Nzobu, ‘zobu, Enyimba, enyi!”
We stood there, helplessly, old and feeble and re-lived the nightmares of the harmattans of ’68. Déjà vu! Painful visions of heads and limbs and eyes, severed and plucked from neighbours and friends and kinsmen. Our sisters already dead from the shock, of having babies snatched from their wombs alive!
And so when they approached, and again asked for the blood of the Biafrans, we watched proudly as our sons spoke the proud tongue of their fathers. And we lifted our heads up to Jehovah.
We fought till the last man stood no more. And reclaimed the lost dignity, of our defiled maidens and emasculated sons. And then we drew our last on the enemies sword. And whispered with conviction: ‘Ozoemena! ozoemena!’ We thought that the nightmares were over and we’d been reborn to live free forever, in this new land of the rising sun.
Until the harmattan of 2012, when they arose again. This time they came, not under the guise of uniforms, fighting an ambiguous war. No, they came for total destruction of everything that gave light and learning. They came in new colours as ‘BokoHaramites’ and we sat and watched helplessly, cowardly and hopelessly, as the cycle of pain began all over again!
Now in ’13, we weep again for the loss of innocence. Only this time, the tears are a sham, because we feel nothing, our hearts are numb as we feed the spirits of consumerism and mask the reality around us. From East to West, North to South, we have become the monsters we flee from and fight against. All around us visions of heads and limbs and eyes, severed and plucked from neighbours and friends and kinsmen.
And now again in 2014, on the eve of the centenary celebrations of a journey which started in 1914. The BokoHaramites strike yet again, and re-open our unhealed, jagged pain.
This time, they struck at the innocent souls of children who slept innocently, in an institution built to propagate the spirit of unity.
A lost people, their clueless rulers and teams of sycophants, guzzle the champagne of young blood and feast on the souls of their unborn heroes.
And collectively, as a people, we sit, helpless on the sidelines, our ‘religious leaders’ making laws that propagate hate, yet refusing to fight for freedom, truth, life and love.
We fly around in private jets and designer gears, unsuccessfully trying to mask our deep-rooted, hidden fears. For we know deep down, that it affects us all-the rich and the poor, whether we find ourselves at home or in the diaspora.
We know that one day soon, these cowardly soldiers of hate and ignorance, will appear at our doors and unleash their horrific, crazy and gruesome dance.
In broad daylight, we fire on, preaching and spreading this gospel of apathy, at home and even across many a river and mountain. To the streets in Britain, to the Queen’s court and into her gate. And it comes full circle, the forced union of 1914, this sham of a marriage that continues to plague its off-springs. Cutting short their lives, ripping apart their hopes and dreams.
Everyone is affected. We are all infected with the poison of this insidious evil and violence. We rise against one another, kith against kin. In an orgy of kidnapping, greed and senseless killings. We have become a people who burn our children to death. We watch the show of shame in broad daylight, without breaking a sweat. Openly, in the giant coliseum of our streets, even recording it for posterity.
We pray on the mountain of deceit and whisper a faint-hearted ‘Ozoemena!’ As we all take our cue, siddon dey look cluelessly or pray for ourselves and dear brother Jona. Let’s act now in faith and not just wait around passively, for the next waves of another vicious cycle of our never-ending storms of pain and shame! Isn’t it time we re-visited and rebuilt this imperfect union?
© ‘Kego Onyido (2010-2014)